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Why Turnkey Rentals Might Just Be an Ideal Investment for Real Estate Newbies

Why Turnkey Rentals Might Just Be an Ideal Investment for Real Estate Newbies

5 min read
Ali Boone

Ali Boone is a lifestyle entrepreneur, business consultant, and real estate investor, who has literally defined non-conformity when it comes to her career. Ali left her corporate 9-to-5 job as an Aerospace Engineer—despite the “dream job” status that came with it—to follow her passion for being her own boss and truly designing her lifestyle. She did this through real estate investing.

Using primarily creative financing to purchase five properties in her first 18 months of investing, Ali’s real estate portfolio started with pre-construction investments in Nicaragua and then moved toward turnkey rental properties in various markets throughout the U.S. With this success, she went on to create her company Hipster Investments, which focuses on turnkey rental properties and offers hands-on support for new investors and those going through the investing process.

Ali’s written roughly 190 articles for BiggerPockets and she’s been featured in FOX Business, The Motley Fool, and Personal Real Estate Investor magazine. She has over 300K views on her “Calculating Rental Property Numbers” video on YouTube, has sold over 200 copies of her Turnkey Rental Properties 101 eBook, and was awarded Top 100 Real Estate Investing Blogs & Websites. Her articles teach successful rental property fundamentals, investor psychology, and strategies to help get new investors started.

She still owns her first turnkey rental properties and she is also a co-owner and the landlord of a local property to her in Venice Beach.

In addition to running Hipster Investments and working as an active business consultant, she’s a pilot and teaches flying. She can often be found snowboarding, hiking, or volunteering in California prisons. Her ultimate goal is to one day challenge Tim Ferriss to a lifestyle design duel.

Ali has two master’s degrees: a master’s in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech and a master’s in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Her undergraduate degree is a bachelor’s in Aerospace from Middle Tennessee State University.

Hipster Investments on Facebook
Instagram & Twitter: @HipsterInvest or @aliboonedotcom

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There are a lot of you new investors out there, and there is a lot of talk and hype about turnkey rental properties. But should you be considering turnkey rental properties if you are an REI newbie?

I think so.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of turnkey rental properties myself, as the large majority of my properties were bought turnkey, but I do still strongly believe that turnkeys can be a great entry for new investors.

I’m going to tell you why.

But first, I am also going to tell you that I don’t think turnkeys are for everyone. Quite frankly, I think that if you have the skills and interest to take on distressed properties yourself and you are local enough to good ones to do so, you should do that. However, not everyone has those skills or interest (including me). For more information to help you decide if turnkeys are right for you or not, check out “The One Piece of Advice You NEED to Read Before Buying a Turnkey Property.”

Now that you’ve decided turnkeys might be the right route for you (because if they weren’t, I assume you wouldn’t still be reading), why might they be good for you if you are a new investor?

Turnkeys let you learn the fundamentals of rental property investing without the pressure of figuring out the more complicated, riskier aspects of rental property investing.

The Tasks Turnkeys Eliminate for Investors

What does that mean?

Well, think about it. Let’s say you want to find a distressed property and rehab it and then rent it out. This is an extremely common strategy because it allows you to value-add and have quickly added equity in the property, which is essentially cash in your pocket. Makes sense to me! But what things do you need to master in order to do this kind of investment successfully?

  • Market and neighborhood expertise
  • Ability to identify what makes a property a good candidate for succeeding with this method
  • The skill of finding these properties—knowing where to find them, how to find them, or how to find motivated sellers who might be willing to sell them
  • Numbers
  • Negotiating
  • Due diligence
  • Funding rehabs
  • Rehabbing
  • Finding quality tenants
  • Managing tenants

I’m not sure about you, but to me, this is no small list of potatoes. Do you know how to do all of these things, if you are pondering rehabbing or the BRRRR method for buying rental properties? And I don’t mean the basic gist of each; I mean getting a handle on the ins and outs of exactly how to do each one and how to do it well and mitigate risk in each.


Related: The Truth About Turnkey Providers No One Tells You

If you are missing the boat on even half of one of these tasks, you could sink your investment.

I think if you have the skills for all of this, like I said, you should absolutely go for it. But as a new investor, do you have these skills? Again, they are no small potatoes.

Which of these skills do turnkeys eliminate for you?

  • Market and neighborhood expertise
  • Ability to identify what makes a property a good candidate for succeeding with this method
  • The skill of finding these properties—knowing where to find them, how to find them, or how to find motivated sellers who might be willing to sell them
  • Numbers
  • Negotiating
  • Due diligence
  • Funding rehabs
  • Rehabbing
  • Finding quality tenants
  • Managing tenants

Can you even see in there what is left over for you to need expertise in after turnkeys help out with the majority of stuff? Numbers and due diligence.

For a list of 10 to get shrunk down to a list of two—that’s pretty serious. And on top of that, those eight things that turnkeys eliminate for you are much more complicated to learn and have expertise in than numbers and due diligence.

Numbers are pretty easy to learn. And once you’ve learned them, you can whip them up pretty quickly on any property you look at. For help on learning the numbers on rental properties, check out “Rental Property Numbers So Easy You Can Calculate Them on a Napkin.”

Due diligence in more thorough, and this is where you are going to learn a lot as a new rental property investor. You are going to verify market fundamentals (note: here you only have to learn how to verify if a market is good, whereas the initial list of DIY tasks requires you to do much more than just verify), run and verify numbers, verify rentability and advertised quality of the investment, follow along with property inspections to verify the quality of the rehab, verify the tenants, and verify the quality of the property management set up to manage the property for you.

Learning the Investing Process With Turnkey Rentals

Do you see a common word in that list? Verify. That is the most of what you are doing with turnkeys.

Learning what things you need to verify and then verifying them, will teach you the most basic (and crucial) fundamentals there are for rental properties.

Verifying all of the things involved with the property is very different than having to do all of those things yourself. You will learn what needs to be done for each component (which can be used later if you decide to DIY), and all the while, the turnkey seller is holding the risk—not you. If you do everything yourself, you are the one whose money is in the pot while you are trying to figure everything out and hope you get it right. With the turnkeys, you don’t have any money in the pot until you confirm everything is up to snuff. That difference in risk-holding is huge!

For help on doing due diligence on turnkeys, check out these three articles:

Now, you do have to add a task to this list of items that you may not have needed on do-it-yourself (DIY) properties: managing the property manager. This is very different than managing tenants or the property. It’s a completely different set of skills.

Related: 4 Steps to Ensure You’re NOT Getting Duped by a Turnkey Provider

Without going into the nitty gritty about property managers, oftentimes they may not be great, and therefore you need to understand how to manage them. In one of the articles I already gave you, it talks a lot about dealing with the property management side of turnkeys. For help with dealing with property managers in general, check out “Surviving the Hell We Call Property Management.”

So officially, you only need to understand (very thoroughly) numbers, due diligence, and management of managers in order to be successful with turnkeys. Significantly smaller list than the DIY list, no?


The Verdict

So back to the verdict about whether turnkeys are a good idea for new investors or not. Are they? Well, first ensure that turnkeys fit your goals and interests at all. Then, if they do, then I think yes, they can be great for new investors—primarily because they allow you to learn the most critical fundamentals of what makes a successful rental property investment without having to learn the advanced tasks and the riskier tasks at the same time.

My theory? Learn the easier stuff while you can do it with less risk (still while getting a great investment), and then if you desire, move on to the advanced stuff once you feel comfortable with the fundamentals. Just because you buy a turnkey once or a few times doesn’t mean you can’t ever go do it on your own.

Assuming you do thorough due diligence on a turnkey property—including verifying the quality of the turnkey provider, the property, the location, and the management—I believe the risk then is significantly less than if you go out on your own to do everything. Verifying is just easier than doing, and it’s certainly less risky if you aren’t sure of what you are doing just yet. It’s much easier to learn and master!

How did everyone out there get their starts? With complicated or easier investment properties?

Leave your comments below!